Louis Vuitton's newest store, the biggest in North America,
today (Dec 3 2009) in Las Vegas, at the Crystals in
I'm delighted to say I designed all the electronics that run the
The stainless steel façade contains 4000 1-watt white
with a nice color temperature (not too yellow, not too cold white)
novel 360 degree light throw, making them easily visible from all
directions. Electronics to run installations of this scale
available off-the-shelf, and besides the obvious requirement of
flicker-free dimming the project required:
UL approved everything (of course)
Easily swappable electronics, so any failures can be
Continuous monitoring of power supplies, temperature, DMX
A test mode to detect broken LEDs and/or wiring
Remote (web-based) monitoring and restart of every board
that runs LEDs
Works with standard DMX lighting protocol, so the
sequencing can be done with high-end lighting control systems
I'm happy to say my hardware design achieves all this.
The installation comprises of 80 separate 60-channel LED driver
each with its own power supply, mounted on an aluminum "shelf" and
installed 10 per cabinet, 8 cabinets total. The driver
watch for power supply problems and over temperature and LED
continually while they run, and
each cabinet has one Ethernet-enabled monitor board that queries
of the 10 driver boards and reports all information via a
webpage. So a technician can look at one webpage to see the
status of everything in a cabinet at a glance. Additionally,
driver board and the monitor board has a LCD display showing
The LEDs are plugged into the back connectors, 12 per connector, 5
connectors total, for 60 LEDs total. This allows the board
removed from the LEDs it drives reasonably easily. Each
has a 5amp fast-blow fuse for UL safety requirements. The
metal slats on the board are heatsinks, under them are 15 driver
chips. On the left is +5V power (two connects for +5V and
ground, since it is 20amps peak) and on the right is DMX input (on
ethernet) and another connector for +12V board electronics power
RS-485 based monitoring.
This shows the little LCD status display, DIPswitches to select
and UnitID (i.e. which# of the 10 this board is in its cabinet),
several test modes and termination on/off, a bicolor DMX signal
LED, and an orange reset button.
Here's two photos of them in a cabinet, being assembled, the
picture is the front view and the right picture the
are mounted vertically on a "door" that can be opened to get
to those 5
big connectors for removal if necessary. There are 8 of
cabinets. I wasn't involved in any of the actual
installation, fortunately, just consulting by phone as
There is a lot of wire out there.
As with most projects, this one is a combination of reworked
proven designs and new stuff. And as with most projects
without some stress-inducing gotchas, both due to mistakes I
showstoppers I had no control over: bugs in the C compiler
PIC18F series) and in the
chips themselves (TI TLC5940). However, I try
designs with a "plan B" in ways large and small when
possible/practical, and I hateto
fail, so after some effort all issues were resolved or worked
satisfactorily, and now LV Las Vegas is the newest neato
A hearty "thank you" to Meritronics
for the manufacturing of 90 of these driver boards on pretty
notice and working around some minor board layout snafus.
Ethernet monitor board front view:
These are a lot less exciting looking than the driver
vital for the long-term health of the installation.
installed in each cabinet, and wired to each of the 10
driver boards in it, and continually display a summary of
boards' status on the LCD (photo doesn't show text, sorry),
red/green status LED (showing "good/problem" at a glance) and
a webpage the board creates on demand with up-to-the-second
everything. This uses the Freescale MC9S12NE64
with built-in Etherenet MAC & PHY, so with
appropriate firmware it is a one-chip custom webserver. I
new board, cut a bunch of code, added some new stuff, fixed
a few minor mistakes and voila - remote monitoring (and click a
reboot!) of all of the boards that run all the LEDs.
Thanks for reading!
I design stuff like this all the time, if you have a project you
custom work for, drop me a line.
Also see DMX LED drivers for sale.